According to the World Health Organisation, just three percent of births in rural areas of Ethiopia and 45 percent of urban births are attended by skilled health personnel. It is estimated that there are just two nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people, compared to 98 per 10,000 people in the United States. This results in thousands of preventable deaths during childbirth.
SOS Children’s Nursing and Midwife Scholarship programme, initiated in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, will be crucial in helping to transform healthcare in Ethiopia. The scheme provides young people who have either grown up in SOS Children’s Villages in Ethiopia, or are supported in the community through an SOS Family Strengthening Programme in the country, with the opportunity to pursue nursing and midwifery career paths.
In October 2012, 13 nursing and midwifery students started their first semester of classes at the SOS Nursing School in Makalle on a three-year scholarship.
The SOS Nursing School in Makalle, in the north of the country, opened in 2001 and has so far trained up 216 nursing students. The school has an agreement with the Ministry of Health that graduates can take up placements in local government hospitals and health centres, improving the quality of nursing and midwifery care for thousands of people.
Sister Martha Mamo, a nursing instructor at the school, says. “Nurses are needed not only in hospitals and small clinics, but also in rural areas, where access to any type of modern health care is very limited. Our school gives young people the opportunity to learn a profession with good prospects for employment. It also helps reinforce core values, such as compassion, respect, teamwork, and communication, fully preparing our young people for careers in the medical field.”
Genet, a 19-year-old girl from SOS Children's Village Addis Ababa, is a student at the school. She is very enthusiastic about the course and says: “I was keen to become a nurse and to help the community. SOS Children has been my family since I was two years old: I'm really happy to be able to help others, just as SOS Children has helped me.”
If successful, this pilot programme will be replicated in other African countries, ensuring more people have access to trained medical professionals and quality healthcare.